Today Gerald F. Joseph Jr, MD, of Louisiana, became the 60th president of The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)... . During his inaugural speech at ACOG's Annual Clinical Meeting, Dr. Joseph announced that postpartum depression is the theme of his presidential initiative.
"While in an ideal world, the newly delivered mother is at the peak of her reproductive health, with a beautiful child and, ideally, a supportive, loving family, this unfortunately is not always the case," said Dr. Joseph. "Studies show that this is a most vulnerable time for our patients, especially those prone to depression or those with a history of depression." Complicating matters is that the new mother often can't bring herself to admit to any problems or negative emotions due to societal pressures, he said. Instead of asking for help, she may feel guilty for not being 'grateful' or a 'good' mother.
Dr. Joseph explained that the 'baby blues,' which affect as many as 80% of new mothers, usually start early after delivery and spontaneously resolve within a very short period of time. "But what happens when these negative feelings don't resolve and true major depression becomes a part of the process?" he asked. "This can be devastating for the mother, the child, the partner, the family, and the ob-gyn who is caring for her."
There are three areas in particular that need to be addressed, according to Dr. Joseph. "First, we need to determine the true prevalence and incidence of postpartum depression," he said. ... postpartum depression is estimated to range anywhere from five percent to more than 25 percent ... we need to develop evidence-based guidelines for ACOG members to screen for postpartum depression."
It would be great if there was some sot of acknowledgement of the role that pregnancy- and birth-related interventions have on the incidence of PND. It would also be great to see a study looking specifically at women with PND, to establish what sort of birth experience the woman had, and who her primary care provider was (midwife or obstetrician). It's not hard to see that when women are told, overtly or covertly, that their bodies don't work and that they need intervention to start labour, keep it going, or bring it to an end, that they take this learning away to motherhood, and approach motherhood with the same sense of failure.